Winlaton Hopping

This article was written by John Stokoe for the “North Country Garland of Song” in the January 1890 issue of the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend, published by Walter Scott Ltd. of Newcastle upon Tyne. The song includes the earliest reference to sword dancing on Tyneside itself.

Winlaton Hopping, like all the other annual festive gatherings of the district, is now considerably shorn of its former glories, and the scenes of hilarious enjoyment formerly witnessed are now things of the past.

Mr. John Leonard, the writer of the song, was the son of Mr. George Leonard, a gardener, of Gateshead, who was also the owner of a property on the east side of High Street, still known by the name of Leonard's Street. The son was brought up to the trade of a joiner, and wrote numerous pieces of poetry, including some satirical efflusions on the events of the day, all of which are now lost or forgotten. In the latter portion of his life he fell into difficulties, and the property named passed into other hands.

The song was written above sixty years ago, and is a clever description of a village fair or hopping. John Peacock, the piper named in the song, was the Paganini of the players on the Northumbrian small pipes, and one of the last of the “Town Waits” whom the old merry burgesses of Newcastle maintained time out of mind to wait upon the Mayor on gala occasions, who played at weddings and other festivals, and serenaded the inhabitants during the winter months.

The tune's character is of Irish extraction, and possesses a rollicking character which fits it well with the lively verses of the song.

Musical Notation Musical Notation

Ye sons of glee,
Come join with me,
Ye who love mirth and toping, O;
You'll ne'er refuse
To hear my muse,
Sing of Winlaton fam'd hopping, O.
To Tenche's Hotel, lets retire,
To tipple away so neatly, O;
The fiddle and song you'll sure admire,
Together they sound so sweetly, O.

Fal the dal la, fal the dal la,
Fal the dal the di dee O,
Fal the dal la, fal the dal la,
Fal the dal the di dee O.

With box and die
You'll Sammy spy,
Of late Sword-Dancers' Bessy, O—
All patch'd and torn,
With tail and horn,
Just like a de'il in dressy, O:
But late discharged from that employ
This scheme propp'd in his noddle, O;
Which filled his little heart with joy,
And pleased blithe Sammy Doddle, O.

Close by the stocks
His dice and box
He rattled away so rarely, O;
Both youth and age
Did he engage,
Together the played so cheerly, O;
While just close by the sticks did fly
At spice on knobs of woody, O;
“How! mind my legs!” the youngsters cry;
“Wey, man, thou's drawn the bloody, O!”

Ranged in a row,
A glorious show,
Of spice and nuts for cracking, O;
With handsome toys
For girls and boys,
Graced Winlaton's famed Hopping, O.
Each to the stalls lead his dear lass,
And treat her there so sweetly, O;
Then straight retired to drink a glass,
An' shuffle and cut so neatly, O.

Ye men so wise
Who knowledge prize,
Let not this scene confound he, O;
At Winship's door
Might ye explore
The world a'running around ye, O.
Blithe boys and girls on horse and chair,
Flew round without e'er stopping, O;
Sure Blaydon Races can't compare
With Winlaton's famed Hopping, O.

The night came on,
With dance and song
Each public-house did jingle, O;
All ranks did swear
To banish Care,
The married and the single, O;
They tript away till morning light,
Then slept sound without rocking, O.
Next day got drunk, in merry plight,
And jaw'd about the Hopping, O.

At last dull Care
His crest did rear,
Our heads he sore did riddle, O,
Till Peacock drew
His pipes and blew,
And Tench he tun'd his fiddle, O;
Then Painter Jack he led the van,
The drum did join in chorus, O.
The old and young then danced and sung,
Dull Care fled far before us, O.

No courtier fine,
Nor grave divine,
That's got the whole he wishes, O;
Will ever be
So blithe as we,
With all their loaves and fishes, O.
Then grant, O Jove!, our ardent prayer,
And happy still you'll find us, O;—
Let pining Want and haggard Care
A day's march keep behind us, O.